Black Meetings and Tourism

November / December 2016

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Troy Martin, 50, exited the metal detector machine at DC's new African American Museum and with a big smile, said, "That's my wall!" The DC resident and skilled laborer pointed at the wall surrounding the expansive lobby and described how he and fellow construction workers had installed drywall and other materials when building the area. Employed by Drake Construction, a woman- owned company that had part of the contract to build one of the Smithsonian's most anticipated i nstitutions, Martin burst with pride seeing the finished product. Four years ago, Martin was released after serving 29 years in prison, and the museum was his first job offer. Stephanie Drake, the African-American owner, had given him a chance. During the construction, Martin said you could almost feel the spirits of ancestors while workers completed the area. On opening day, he had waited in a long queue wit h thousands of others and after entering, even offered to give tours. Like Martin, people of all races and faiths waited patiently on September 27th to be the first to officially enter the stunning new building which prominently sits between The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Four architec- ture firms, Freelon Group, (now part of Perkins and Will), SmithGroupJJR, Davis Brody Bond and Adjaye, oversaw the design. The Washington Post called the exterior iconic: three tiers of inverted half-pyramids, sheathed in a shimmering bronze-hue screen cut in an abstract pattern based on the intricate ironwork cre- ated by freed slaves in New Orleans and Charleston, S.C. Over a century in the making, the new museum overcame numerous hurdles THOUSANDS ATTEND OPENING OF NEW AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM BY EDITH BILLUPS Photo Credit: by Alan Karchmer Photo Credit: PoPMedia Group B M & T ••• November/December 2016 ••• 16

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